More than 50,000 young people gathered together with Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square yesterday, singing songs and waving flags, to entrust the World Youth Day Cross to the young people of Germany.
The Pope, who appeared in good health, arrived at St. Peter’s at sunset to meet with the young people who had spent the day enjoying music and entertainment in anticipation of the Pope’s arrival.
300 participants of the International Youth Forum who had been meeting together in Rome, under the direction of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, were also present.
During the meeting in preparation for the World Youth Day, which will be celebrated on Palm Sunday with the theme, “We want to see Jesus,” the Pope entrusted the WYD Cross to a group of young people from Germany, and he recalled the first WYD which took place 20 years ago with the theme, “Open wide the doors to the Redeemer.”
During his remarks, the Pope said, “20 years ago, at the conclusion of the Holy Year of Redemption, I entrusted the Cross to the young people, the wood upon which Christ was raised above the earth, where He lived the ‘hour’ for which he had come to this world.”
“Since then this cross, journeying from one World Youth Day to another, is carried by young people all over the world, announcing the merciful love of God who comes out to meet each one of his children to restore the dignity lost because of sin,” he added.
“Dear young people,” the Pope went on, “stay united to the Cross! Do not lose sight of the glory which awaits you as well.”
The Pope also said that “we have to reevaluate the way in which we evangelize the youth of the world, yet with the certainty that today as well, Christ wants them to see Him, today as well he wishes to show His face to all.”
“Dear young people,” the Pope said, “do not be afraid to find new ways of total abandonment to the Lord and to mission. ... Think of how you can carry the Cross in the world!"
The Holy Father called on young people to “continue carrying together the Cross which I entrusted to you 20 years ago.”
"Since then youth have changed, as I too have changed, but your heart, like mine, is thirsty for truth, joy and eternity, and therefore, always young. This afternoon," he concluded, "I put my faith once again in you, the hope of the Church and society! Do not be afraid! Wherever you go, in season and out of season, carry the power of the Cross with you so that everyone, thanks to you as well, can continue to see and believe in the Redeemer of man,” he concluded.